Skip to main content
6:00 am
i'm telling you why this is the wrong approach to this entire line of cases. in terms of -- president is very importantnt is very to the courts. usually, you need a lot more if you could overrule a case every time you thought it was wrong, there would not be that much to precedent. it is important to a functioning legal system. it usually means other things. it is unworkable or the legs have been cut out from under it. it is inconsistent with a whole pack of our other precedents. it is read at a justice or the rare that a- it is
6:01 am
justice or the court will say, we got it wrong. the fact that you have dissented in a case does not mean that you would reverse the case. it is the exact that if the exact same case came before you. , ais a case that is related little bit the same, a little bit different. there is a pretty important marker for a approach -- an approach for how to think about those cases. >> well, our hour together is -- has passed quickly. i will give you a chance for one last word you would like to have one. otherwise, i am afraid our bench is going to disappear. this happens when you go on too long. let me just say -- >> no, no, no. it is your show. [laughter] >> somehow i don't feel that way. [laughter] >> let's again express our deep thanks to you for spending his time with us today.
6:02 am
what a wonderful opportunity for all of us to hear from you. one of the things that is always fascinating when we have folks from the court is to have a sense of who the justices are and what they are like and what they are interested in. you gave some tremendously interesting descriptions of how the court works. we can i get that anywhere else. -- we cannot get that anywhere else. we are so grateful that you would take your time to be with us. welcome to alabama. if you ever want to come back and hunt deer were birds, i'm sure there are any number of people here who can help you do that. [laughter] >> i also want to thank you and your family for making this occasion possible. i do think all of our guests for being with us today. thank you very much. >> thank you very much. again i want to thank everybody here and to thank you judge.
6:03 am
as a former dean, i know how important law school is and how generosity like yours can make -- can be. i'm very appreciative of what you have done for the university of alabama law school. i'm sure they tell you this all the time, but to hear from another dean, gifts like yours and support like yours make an enormous difference to a place like this. thank you. >> thank you very much. you certainly honored us with your presence. i enjoyed the conversation very much. >> will you join me in thanking justice kagan? [applause] >> thank you very much. [applause] [captioning performed by national captioning institute] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2013] >> on the next "washington
6:04 am
journal," congressman tim huelskamp on the implantation of the health care law. then, conquer cars and -- then, congress men gregory meeks on the deal with iran. that is followed by scott patterson of "the wall street journal" on volcker rule. live every morning at 7:00 a.m. eastern on c-span. as he walked in, there are tables with lots of pamphlets. the gun the pamphlets are how the government is trying to take away your right to own the guns. that, obamacare is terrible. those were the guys i wanted to
6:05 am
talk to. those were the guys with the idea. i said is this your stuff -- they said, who are you. amaid i and i -- i said i doing research on these organizations and these ideas. trying to understand this. i study men who believe the stuff. suspiciouslyt me and asked me questions. i said here's what i am. i do not get it. here is my job. i went to understand how you see the world. i want to understand your worldview. and ill not convincing will not convince you. that is off the table. i want to understand why you think the way you do. >> downward mobility, racial and gender equality. "chael kimmel on angry white men." sunday night at 9:00 on afterwards, part of book tv on
6:06 am
c-span2. justiceme court clarence thomas spoke about adjusting to life on the high court. his remarks came at the federalist society's national wars -- national lawyers convention in washington, d.c.. this is about 50 minutes. [applause] >> thank you, david. good evening, everyone. it is my great honor and pleasure to introduce our distinguished guest this evening. although much of what i might say by way of introduction is no doubt familiar to all of you. justice clarence thomas has served with great distinction on the united states supreme court for more than two decades now. he has been a friend of the federalist society for so long that most of you in this room already know him very well. [applause] but i think it is right for us to recall the extraordinary path that he traveled to reach our
6:07 am
nation's highest court. not for what it tells us about him, but for what it tells us about our country. as justice thomas himself put it in his remarkable memoir, "my granfather's son," "i have never doubted the greatness of a country in which a person like me could travel all the way from georgia to our nation's capital." clarence thomas is dissented -- clarenceissented from westdescended african slaves who worked at a plantation in georgia. he was born in pin point, a tiny settlement near savannah, into circumstances of extreme poverty and deprivation. there was no running water in the shanty where he lived. and only a single electric light. his father abandoned the family. when he was six, the house burned down and his mother moved with clarence and his brother to a squalid tenement in savannah, where the living conditions were deplorable and there was a shortage of food.
6:08 am
his mother could not raise the boys on the $10 per week she earned as a housekeeper. when clarence was seven, he and his younger brother were sent to live with their grandparents. their influence on him, especially that of his grandfather, myers anderson, was life-changing. as told in his wonderful memoir, his grandfather's self-reliance and ethic of hard work and personal responsibility, his catholic faith and insistence on the importance of education, and his personal dignity and strength in the face of the injustices of the segregated south taught our supreme court justice everything he needed to know to meet the challenges and opportunities that were ahead of him. the sisters at saint benedict and saint pius added a few things too. [laughter] initially, young clarence thomas was called to the priesthood and he entered the seminary.
6:09 am
the call gradually lost its strength and a bigoted comment by another extinguished his determination. -- his location -- his vocation. in fall 1968, he enrolled at holy cross college. yale law school came next. after earning the elite degree, he had difficulty finding a big- city law firm job. so he accepted an offer from the attorney general of missouri and served as an assistant attorney general in jefferson city from 1974 to 1977. after a brief stint in corporate law, he followed the then senator danforth to washington, d.c. in 1979, just in time for the reagan revolution. over the next dozen years, clarence thomas served in all three branches of government. as a legislative aide to senator danforth, as chairman of the
6:10 am
equal opportunity employment commission, and as a circuit judge on the united states court of appeals for the d.c. circuit. along the way, he met and married virginia, his soulmate. [applause] in 1991, he was appointed to the supreme court by president george h.w. bush. by this time, he had emerged as an outspoken conservative, so the confirmation process exacted a personal toll. but by following the example of his grandfather, he persevered. and our nation is very fortunate that he did. on the court, justice thomas has been a steady and committed originalist, playing a pivotal role in the recovery and restoration of the original meaning method of constitutional interpretation.
6:11 am
he has made substantial and important contributions to our law. both in his opinions for the court and when writing separately. perhaps most notably in the areas of federalism and the separation of powers, the jurisprudence of protection and the guarantee of trial by jury, and the law of free political speech. his opinions reflect a deeper appreciation for the liberty- protecting structure of our constitutional system. he has advanced in understanding in the constitution, informed by the vital truths expressed in the declaration of independence, connecting our political and derivative documents. his extraordinary personal fortitude is an example to all who would stand on principal. ladies and gentlemen, please join me in welcoming clarence thomas. [applause] good evening and it is so good
6:12 am
to see you again. [laughter] he was really loose at the table so i think this is going to be a lot of fun. >> thank you, thank you. >> as i talked about in the introduction, your path to the court is a remarkable american story. i would like to begin our discussion in the middle of the story with your decision to go to law school. that was your genesis or the genesis of your journey in the law.
6:13 am
you had left the seminary and were a student at holy cross. it was the late 1960's, a very turbulent time for our country. you decided to go to law school. you were accepted at some of the best law schools in the country. as i recall from your memoir, you said you turn down harvard law school in favor of yale because harvard was too big and too conservative. i get the big part. [laughter] but the conservative part, i think you have to explain. [laughter] >> first of all, thank you for the introduction. i think i should have just quit while i was ahead. [laughter] this is really embarrassing. there is a lot of attention on me and it makes you uncomfortable. but you know, i think when you
6:14 am
come up from a part of the country and you are in new england, there are a lot of things that are happening in your life. i had quit the seminary, which was the only dream i had ever really had. i had been a devout catholic, an altar boy, and i had eschewed all of those things in 1968. like most kids who eschew the way you were raised, you are adrift. you are looking for the next location -- vocation. everyone thinks they have a vocation, if you are in the convent or trying to be a priest. that is your orientation. i thought that law would be a substitute vocation, something similar to the priesthood, where you did well so that you could do good, so that you could go
6:15 am
back home and do the right thing. that was all there was to it. now that is about as deep as it got. this was 1968, 1969. woodstock is going on. that would be considered very sane thinking. [laughter] >> you were something of a campus radical, weren't you? >> yeah, but i wasn't a dope head. [applause] the 1960's were different. [laughter] there were a lot of things happening involving race, the breakdown, the structure in society. i was suddenly out of the seminary in new england.
6:16 am
there were no rules. things were falling apart. without structure, it is very difficult to navigate. i was extremely fortunate to be at holy cross. i was extremely fortunate to still have had a residual of the way i was raised and the structure that the nuns had given me, the structure that the seminary had given me. i was also extremely fortunate because i had already been in predominantly white schools. i was the only black kid in my high school in savannah. so the transition to a school with very few blacks and a very difficult set of circumstances academically and otherwise, i had sort of a jumpstart. i was ahead of the game. i had something. it allowed me to continue to do well even though it was very difficult. i do want to get to harvard. i do not want to get lost in
6:17 am
that. i was a bit of a radical. that is what happens back then. you were black and things were changing. we were very upset. that changed at a riot in harvard square, when i finally realized, this is going too far. i am full of this hatred that, as my grandfather would often tell me when he saw me, you were not raised to be that way. i can give you the exact date. the road to damascus date was the morning of april 16, 1970, the day after harry blackmun was announced for the supreme court. we were in the exact same newspaper. that is how i knew. [laughter] so having come back from the riot at harvard square, i am not
6:18 am
understanding exactly what i had just done. i stood in front of the chapel at holy cross and that is where i made a promise to god that if he could help me get this hatred out of my heart, i would never hate again. it is sort of ironic when i hear people trying to tell me that i am supposed to be overwhelmingly race-conscious and have this sense of get even. a sort of effort to get even in my life. that is the opposite of the way i was raised. that is the opposite of what we believed in. it was the opposite of the deal i made with god on april 16, 1970. with respect to harvard, i saw harvard as a dream. i had no plans. what do i know about harvard? i am from savannah, georgia. i may as well say harvard, mars,
6:19 am
it's the same thing. if someone said to me, that is as impossible as harvard, i would've just laughed. in 1969 or so. that was a reach for me. but i was confused. that is the era we are selling black panther papers. we are meeting at the radical bookstore and wondering why the fbi was looking at us. [laughter] you meet at a store with a little red book behind you. other people might be interested in what you're doing. and they are not all called nsa. [laughter] but at any rate, i was accepted, to my surprise.
6:20 am
and i went to cambridge, and i remember that there were a lot of people in the law school, and it was very confusing. i escaped from that madness. it was sort of like the scene that you see in "the stranger" in camus. having this weird experience out there. that is what happened to me at harvard. i became like breathless, oh, my goodness, a panic attack. i got back to holy cross and said, there is no way i can go there. it is big and all these people are walking around dressed up like they were going into the corporate world. back then, we were anti- corporations. i decided to go to penn, actually. i had not been accepted at yale. i was going to go to penn law school. yale had sent me, you knew you were accepted if they sent a big packet of materials. yale sent me the thinnest of letters.
6:21 am
we are not into the catalog thing. we are yale. [laughter] not only that, they sent it to my grandparents in savannah, georgia, who never open my mail because they could not read what was in it. so they never looked at it. they eventually sent it to me, so i get this hidden letter from yale. i went to yale and quite frankly, as bad as the things are that i may have said about yale, the experience was very beneficial to me. [applause] >> what were you hoping to do with your law degree? >> go to savannah, georgia. i never had any other dream but to return to savannah, georgia. that is my number one dream. i was going to become a priest to go and help.
6:22 am
i was going to become a lawyer to go and help. it was that simple. i could not get a job in my state of georgia. it was that simple. some people make it very complicated. i could not get a job. i looked at the firms in atlanta. i looked at lots of places. i got zero job offers. jack danforth, a good man. the biggest problem i had with him was he was a republican. [laughter] but i got over it when i only had one job offer. [applause] >> tell us about what the first job meant to you and your future. >> it was the best job i ever had. i learned things from jack danforth that i would learn from other good people. i learned that you do not judge people or use labels, a republican versus this or that. i also learned that you can treat people fairly and be
6:23 am
decent and honest with everybody. he was always absolutely honest and ethical. in watching him be that way, you learn how to be that way with others. he was a compassionate man also. he was very good to me. every day, i thank god that along the way -- again, remember, i had absolutely no one to give me guidance. i thank god i met so many good people. my years at eeoc, being protected by people there like orrin hatch and strom thurmond. i did not know strom thurmond. i had just met senator hatch. but i had over 60 hearings and some of those were pretty brutal. every time, the people i could count on in the senate were orrin hatch and strom thurmond. [applause]
6:24 am
in any case, that job meant everything to me because it was a model for how i would conduct myself and what to expect in the future. >> let's talk about your decision to come to d.c. in 1979. at that point, a major political shift was underway. what is now called the conservative legal movement came just a few years later. when you came here, your arrival coincided with this shift. was that just a coincidence? or did you come with an affinity for the legal ideas? >> oh, god, no. i was trying to get to savannah. i was getting promoted in a job that was a fine job with good people. that is not why i went to law school. as i said then, i was beginning to feel the golden handcuffs
6:25 am
close, and i wanted out. so i quit my job -- impetuously , i do things like that -- and i thought about it, i quit my job in 1979. i was 31 years old. packed up the u-haul to move, and fortuitously, again, good people looking out for me. senator danforth offered me a job. so i came here. i was only going to stay a couple of years, and then i was going to savannah. one thing led to another and i wound up on the court. [laughter] [applause] honestly, people come up with all of these things. i love people with bad intent who write these things, how you did this or how you did that. it was like totally forrest gump. [laughter] i did my job and i showed up in pictures. one day, i showed up in a
6:26 am
picture at the supreme court. i wish i could give you a better story than that. >> there must have been people you turned to. >> well, my wife. i met her in 1986 and that was the beginning of me going back to things that were most important in my life. and we prayed about everything that happened after that. good people who believed in me, like president bush. i did not know president bush when he nominated me to the d.c. circuit. my good friend, ricky silverman, insisted that i think about it. [applause] larry silverman counseled me about it. at every turn -- and it will probably be boring to you all because my life actually is
6:27 am
pretty boring -- there were a series of good people who showed up. one of the things that became a priority, if you talk to people who come to new places and they do not have family, you can ask anyone in this room who does not have a structured family, you begin to assemble a family. that was the source of my difficulty with yale. yale had become the only family that i had. and then at a critical juncture, they abandoned me. that was the big problem. it was not when i was at yale. at every point, you build a family. the people i just mentioned to you became a sort of substitute family. think about it. my wife goes with me -- my wife and i are really close.
6:28 am
[laughter] we spend a lot of time together. we go down to savannah, and she sees the family structure, and it is the pathology, in many ways, of the social experiments of the 1960's. my grandparents are gone, so that anchor is gone. i am sort of without that base. you begin to look for people to fill that in. the people who i just mentioned to you, who gave me that guidance, who looked out for me, and became that substitute family, it was very important to me. i always think that i am blessed because god, i think, has sent all of these good people. he sent my wife. my wife is a gift that i prayed for in the 1980's. i got to the court and my
6:29 am
friend, justice scalia, was there. and it was a godsend. we quickly became friends, and he looked out for me, that sort of thing. just the way orrin hatch and strom thurmond looked out for me or that jack danforth looked out for me. >> let's turn to your time on the court. three weeks ago, you marked your 22nd anniversary. >> i did. [applause] oh, my goodness. >> i did not need to look that up because i have my own personal marker. my son alex, who you met earlier, who here is with me here today, was born two days after you took your seat on the court. he is my own personal marker of your anniversary. >> i hope you did not waste any of your time watching my ordeal. >> he was two weeks late. >> wow. at least that sort of kept your mind off that.
6:30 am
[laughter] >> it did. >> i am trying to look for the good side of that. >> if you would, share a few thoughts on your initial transition to the court. how did you get your bearings on the court? who gave you advice? how did you learn the ways of the court? >> first of all, i came through the d.c. circuit. the people there were fabulous, absolutely fabulous. i got advice from a good friend, larry silverman, who was just a wonderful mentor on the d.c. circuit for the entire 15 months. [laughter] and he continued to be a friend afterwards. when i got to the court, i was enormously blessed. byron white was still there. a good man. but my closest ally and friend
6:31 am
when i got there was justice scalia. [applause] at the expense of embarrassing him or the risk of embarrassing him, i can honestly say that as beat up as i was when i got there with the workload, i do not know how i would have gotten through it if he had not been there. he became, quickly, a friend. he became family. he and maureen just became -- you know what? it was not that we always agreed on every case, although we agree quite a bit. it was that i could count on him, and i could trust him. i could go and talk to him. there were days when i was getting beat up quite a bit, and
6:32 am
he was a friend and a colleague. but oftentimes, a friend. he was very kind to me. the members on the court were delightful to me. chief justice rehnquist, justice marshall, all of them, justice brennan. they all gave me sage advice, but in the end, the closest person who made it doable was justice scalia. >> tell us what has changed during your tenure on the court. >> god, i am older. [laughter] the courts change. you know, it is really interesting. i have to take my hat off to people like john stevens, justice rehnquist, people who have been there a long time. after you have been there a while, you sort of come of age with the court and you get used
6:33 am
to that. then it changes. new colleagues come on and you make adjustments and they become your family. it is a different court. you have different colleagues. they are good people, all of them. we have been enormously fortunate. justice alito is there now and we were at yale together. [applause] he and martha ann have become family. you meet new people and you get new colleagues and friends. but i have to say that, with all of that, i look back on the days that i came of age as the years that i will treasure. they were really, really hard. i feel like you take justice scalia and we were in the trenches together.
6:34 am
you learn a lot and you treasure now the moment, but you really look back on those days as the critical days. i have been there so long now and seen a lot. back then, you were quite fresh and you are a novice. >> has the style of the presentation of the cases changed at all? >> oh, i don't know. >> the oral arguments. >> there are a lot of briefs and people have done a lot of talking. [laughter] [applause] i mean, it is law. i must say, when i went on the court, i was resisted being a judge. that is not what i would have picked in my life. but it is your j-o-b, so you do it.
6:35 am
now you get to a point and you see it. it becomes an avocation -- this is what you're called to do. this is what i do. it is not that the words have changed, but the way you read them, the way you absorb them. i never thought that i would treasure doing my job. i have reached that point. even the most boring cases are fascinating. one of my clerks today was saying to me -- i was reading some opinions and he said, you need to put on your green eye shades. i said i think it is fascinating. i think he wanted some medication for that. -- he wanted to say there is medication for that. [laughter] but i have gotten to a point where it is like the priesthood.
6:36 am
this is what i was called to do. i would not say enjoy, but i love what i do. [applause] >> some things, to observers from the outside, have definitely changed at the supreme court. we had the rise of the specialty supreme court bar, of course. i do not know if that has changed the way the cases are presented, the quality of the oral arguments. >> it is like the eyes of gargoyles or something. they are not all that bad. [laughter] >> ok, next question. [laughter] >> i do not know the legal profession that well. i just show up and do my job. [laughter] >> something else has definitely changed, the kind and degree of attention that is paid to the court and its work. >> i do not follow the attention that is paid. >> we now have scotus blog -- >> i know nothing about that.
6:37 am
[laughter] >> you do not read the new media? >> god, no. >> do you read the old? >> i try not to read anything about what we do, because i was there. [laughter] [applause] >> fair enough. >> i really don't. i do not read. that is just hearsay. >> fair enough. [laughter] we will move on. ok. >> i am sorry i am the way i am. [laughter] >> ok, moving on. i think it is fair to say that you are the most consistent originalist on the supreme court. >> i am? [laughter] >> sorry, justice scalia. >> he said i was a cold-blooded originalist or something.
6:38 am
>> he says now he is a stout- hearted originalist. >> i am or he is? >> he is. >> he is a courageous originalist and a brilliant one. [applause] that is right. >> i think it is fair to say that you are the justice most willing to re-examine the court's precedents. >> it is because of my affinity for starry decisiveness? it is, but it is not enough to keep me from going to the constitution. [laughter] [applause]
6:39 am
-- oh, goodness. i guess they do not care much for stare decisis. ofo not mean to make light stare decisis. >> and that is fine. i did want to ask you about your approach to writing separately. you do write separately quite a bit. >> oh, i do? >> yeah, you do. you support your own path in those separate opinions. one of your separate opinions on the application of the sixth amendment to the jury trial rights, the sentencing facts, became the majority view of the court. others of your separate opinions may be less likely to command the majority view. >> maybe like a fine wine, it just needs aging. [laughter] >> is that your philosophy of separate opinion making?
6:40 am
>> hey, harlan took 60 years but he eventually won in plessy. you asked a very good question. i think that i may lose, but i think i am obligated and encouraged by my colleagues, if you believe that, you write it. i try not to do it in a way that is not polite or respectful, but i think that someone should have kept writing that segregation was wrong. [applause] regardless of what the precedent was, i think you have to say certain things.
6:41 am
when i first went on the court, people thought that great people like bob bork and justice scalia, the originalist, everyone thought they were not a gimmick, but sort of an oddity. earlier, in the introduction and the speech by jean mayer, originalism now is respected. so they had to do it. maybe in some of these other cases, we are obligated to say what we really think. in your job, you are more constrained. but you get cases of first impression. this precedent, perhaps, you might question. you feel obligated to say something. that is the way i feel. the other thing is that it was
6:42 am
very unpleasant to, in my case, to go to the court, for a variety of reasons. when you go through that, you feel that you have -- you are obligated, with the blessings that you have, with the opportunities you have to do your job, to stand up for certain principles. i have to say, i have been encouraged by my colleagues. they have never discouraged me. they have their approach and i have mine. and if you notice, in all of those cases, i try to do it with a certain degree of respect for my colleagues. maybe 100 years from now, someone will excavate and say, this guy was out of his mind. i do not know. [laughter] but i think -- i am one of these
6:43 am
people who still remembers, as a little kid, standing in the schoolyard and saying the pledge of allegiance. little black kids at an all- black school, every morning, saying the pledge of allegiance. who remembers watching tv sign offs at night with the national anthem. and the poem "high flight," which you can see on youtube now. i still get goosebumps from these things. i still believe in this stuff. i still believe in the constitution. it means more to me than just an academic document. it is really important. i feel obligated that the opportunity that i am given to be there, to try to get it right. that does not mean i have the gospel. i don't think that. it is just an opinion. but if you have it, i think you are obligated to say what it is
6:44 am
and why. if you look like a fool, so what? that is the reason you do litany of humility. you do not worry about it. you are humble enough to know that perhaps you run the risk in being honest of not necessarily looking like the most acceptable person. >> you described having a sense of the weight of history of what you do and the duty and obligation of the job to get it right every time. on a lighter note, i want to ask you how you escape the weightiness of your job and the cloister of the court. let's talk about the venerable practice at the supreme court known as the summer recess. you are, as i understand it, a famously collegial group of justices. in spite of your sharp disagreements, there are no
6:45 am
scorpions in a bottle on this court. all of those really hard and closely-divided cases at the end of the term must produce some frayed nerves and the need to separate for a while. is that fair? >> well, i never have a problem with it. i mean, you know, i do not know. i did not ever have a problem with it. [laughter] >> i get out of there as soon as i can. [laughter] [applause] >> no, but the truth is that, actually, we always have a very pleasant visit before the end of the term. there are some people that you want to take your leave from at the end. [laughter]
6:46 am
>> you have a different way of unwinding over the summer recess. some of your colleagues retreat to teaching excursions in europe and so forth. you have a very different style. >> i go to europe sometimes, only to come back. [laughter] i would not be characterized as a europhile or whatever they call it. i like the united states. [applause] i have nothing against the other countries, but i love the united states. i love this place. i cannot get back quick enough. you know, i am not really anxious to leave. and about the cloistered life, i love the cloistered life. i was in the seminary, you know? i enjoy going in. one of my colleagues calls me
6:47 am
brother clarence. i love that. i love my law clerks. i love my work that i get to do. it is just wonderful. think about it. every day i go in and have this wonderful opportunity to do this job. i cannot say that is the way i felt at the beginning, but that is the way i am now. i feel blessed every day to have the chance, one more day, to go in and be a part of it. i do not care how hard it is. this is not nearly as hard as you being in the field. -- this is not nearly as hard as picking beans or stripping fodder or plowing. you walk behind a horse in that georgia sun and you do roofing work or you do sewer work. this is a calling. this is not that bad. [laughter] and think about it -- how can you complain?
6:48 am
we get a chance to do what we get a chance to do. i love the people i work with. i love seeing them. some days are better than others. i'm next door to my colleague, justice scalia, my friend. i hear his voice in the hall or something. these are my friends. >> talk about your relationship with your law clerks. >> i love my law clerks. i absolutely love my law clerks. i told you before, i had to pick my family. these kids are my family. >> how do you go about choosing them? >> pretty arbitrarily. [laughter] i do not want you to think that i just randomly hired them or anything. i rely on people i trust.
6:49 am
they all clerk for other judges, and the other judges, good friends, clerks. i have taken clerks from friends like larry silverman, steve williams, people i know, edith jones. just lots of judges i know, people who will call me and say, this is a good person. they know that i do not care which school they went to. it could be lsu or it can be yale. i hire a small percentage from the ivy's. i hire quite a few more from the non-ivy's, simply because there are smart kids all over the place. i try to take them from the south. my part of the country. i try to prefer kids who come from modest circumstances, whose parents did not have all of the
6:50 am
benefits, who didn't have all the advantages. that is just a preference. i am not going to bring kids in who disagree on first principles. i am not interested in arguing with 26-year-olds about that sort of stuff. i like kids who are not jerks. [laughter] i require kids to work together, and i do not need all of that disruption in my chamber. i have been enormously blessed with the kids i have had. very smart, very pleasant, very hard-working. they brought joy to my life. tomorrow, i will have lunch with about 35 former law clerks. we have monthly lunches. that is one of the monthly high points for me, to see my kids and to see how well they are doing. >> i understand that you take a pilgrimage to gettysburg every year with your law clerks -- or
6:51 am
almost every year. >> those poor kids, i drag them there. i take them on my bus. i love going to gettysburg. at the end of the term, i think people tend to be a little jaded, a little upset about things. i am more idealistic in this job than i was before i took the job. i want them, after they see a term, i want them to go to gettysburg and think about the price that was paid for this country to exist. thanks to martha ann alito, we saw the wounded warriors today. [applause] it is one of the most heartfelt things that i have ever done, to see young people who have been mortally wounded in defense of this nation.
6:52 am
it is hard to see them and not believe that we are doing -- that we have an obligation to continue to do the right thing. what i am trying to do in taking my clerks to gettysburg in a small way is to think about lincoln and that horrible war, the carnage that took place at gettysburg. think of all the animals that were killed, all of the human beings, all of the destruction that had occurred there. and he comes there three or four months later, november 19, to dedicate a 4-minute speech or whatever it was, and the things that he said, the eloquence of it to elevate that tragic moment, and what i am trying to get these kids to understand, after they see a term, after they see the imperfections, that they still believe. that they are still idealistic. even with the reality, they still believe that this is important and they understand
6:53 am
why. so we go, yes, and i drag them across the battlefield. i do not feel all that bad about it. the point is simply to pull it all back together after you see how the sausage is made. that you still believe that it is all worthwhile. [applause] >> of course, next week, we will be celebrating the 150th anniversary of the gettysburg address. i do not know if you have some final thoughts on what lincoln's words meant to the country then and what they mean to us now. >> well, first of all, i would like to thank you and i would like to thank you all for staying so late to put up with me. [applause] very briefly, lincoln's words mean a lot to me personally because he was the great emancipator.
6:54 am
i happen to be from the slaves that were affected by field order number 15 after the emancipation proclamation. also, i have to say that what lincoln had to say and what he did has affected our country enormously. we know that. but it has affected me too. no 13th amendment, no 14th amendment, no 15th amendment, my life is different. i certainly would not be sitting here, and i certainly would not be sitting on the supreme court of the united states. but in this speech, you hear this voice. it is perfectible. the country is perfectible. not perfect, but perfectible. the war was all about that. when i go into the building that
6:55 am
i work in now, that is the theme i tried to carry with me and my clerks. it is perfectible. it is worth, every day, getting up and trying to make it right, trying to make it work. but you cannot do that if you do not do it on principle. it is not necessarily just about whether your methodology is this or that. it is about whether or not your principles are right, and they are the principles of this country. i thank you all, i thank you for this opportunity and god bless you. [applause] >> thank you, judge sykes.
6:56 am
thank you, justice thomas. thank you, in particular, justice thomas, for sharing many of the lessons that you learned in that life well-lived. for those of us -- younger than me -- who will be the future of a this country, we appreciate your sense of calling and commitment to that calling to help perfect our union and to do it without hatred for those who oppose us and with cheerfulness. thank you again for your service and for your lessons. [applause] >> in the house judiciary
6:57 am
committee looks at obama's use of executive power. live coverage begins at 10:00 a.m. eastern on c-span2. also, the education subcommittee examines college affordability and the pell grant program. line on c-span3. idea fornot get the s" series.ummie i had an idea to do a book about computers. i inspired myself to do that dealing with people in the magazine editing job i had. being on the radio and being in the public, talking to people about computers. people wanted to learn more but the material we had available at the time was not doing the job. we had begin her books on how to use computers, but they sucked. they were condescending, they were patronizing.
6:58 am
the author was arrogant. you will never get this stuff anyway. hey, look at this. people did not want to know that. they wanted to use a computer. i originally planned to publish one book, even then there was reluctance he with the title when the owner found out they had "dos for dummies." he was like you cannot offend the reader, cancel that. 5000 copies came off the press. it was going to be seven 500 -- 7500, they figure they would shove it out in the marketplace and it would go away. at the time, not all the bookstores wanted it. waldenbooks said we do not want to insult our reader. even with just 5000 copies out there, this is before the when we had bookstores. real bookstores people wanting to. into.nt
6:59 am
in a week, it was sold out. people said that is for me, i am a dummy. >> today, there are more than 250 million books in print and "for800 -- over 1800 dummies" titles. looking at the history and literary life of quarterly -- of idaho. " is next,gton journal live with your phone calls and tweets. at 10:00 eastern, the u.s. house returns. members take up 10 mils, including ones that managed tsa technology and equipment upgrades. coming up and 45 minutes, congressman tim huelskamp of texas on implement the health care law. 0, gregory meeks of new york talks about the deal with
7:00 am
iran over the country's nuclear program. 5, scott patterson of the wall street journal on the volcker rule and how to implement it. ♪ the house is set to vote on a 10 year extension on a law next weekt to expire on detecting guns through metal detectors. president obama will address the nation with the status of health and the washington post is reporting that the senate is confident they can pass the farm bill. washingtong to journal, december 3, 2013. you have heard about the amazon

Key Capitol Hill Hearings
CSPAN December 3, 2013 6:00am-7:01am EST

Series/Special. Speeches from policy makers and coverage from around the country. (Stereo)

TOPIC FREQUENCY Us 11, Savannah 10, Georgia 7, Clarence Thomas 6, Strom Thurmond 4, Lincoln 4, United States 4, Washington 4, Danforth 3, Larry Silverman 3, Orrin Hatch 3, Clarence 3, Jack Danforth 3, D.c. 3, Bush 2, Alabama 2, Europe 2, Rehnquist 2, Gregory Meeks 2, Iran 2
Network CSPAN
Duration 01:01:00
Rating TV-MA
Scanned in San Francisco, CA, USA
Source Comcast Cable
Tuner Channel v24
Video Codec mpeg2video
Audio Cocec ac3
Pixel width 704
Pixel height 480
Sponsor Internet Archive
Audio/Visual sound, color

disc Borrow a DVD of this show
info Stream Only
Uploaded by
TV Archive
on 12/3/2013